Meal Prep: Your New Best Friend?

Despite being painfully overused on social media, the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” is in fact very true. You can train seven days a week but if you’re not feeding your body with the correct nutrients then you will see limited progress. More often than not, eating the wrong type of food isn’t down to purposely neglecting your body, it’s simply an issue of lack of time and preparation.

Spending half an hour at night prepping your meals for the following day, or getting up a bit earlier in the morning, is a highly effective way to stop you from quickly grabbing the same supermarket meal deal which you have eaten every day for the past year and a half. I found it fairly difficult to know where to begin with meal prepping when I first started, but I now swear by these five steps.

 

Make A Meal Plan

There’s nothing quite like planning your meals for the week ahead to cure Sunday night boredom. For each day write down what you’re going to have for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner as well as leaving room for two interchangeable snacks. I personally base what I choose for my daily snacks on whether they’re going to be pre or post workout, and what area of the body I’m training on that specific day. On glute, leg and shoulder days I like to incorporate a lot of protein so I’ll have protein balls or a protein bar. Whereas for a day when I’m training abs I’ll have something lighter like sliced banana on oat crackers.

 

Double Up

The great thing about planning your meals, alongside the heavily reduced stress levels, is being able to double up. If you’re making tuna and sweetcorn pasta salad for your dinner, then double up on the ingredients and set some aside to take to work, university or school the next day. This saves both time and money and ensures you won’t be tempted to the vending machine.

 

Keep A Food Diary

For those who are just starting out with meal prepping and changing your diet, a great way to see which foods make you feel like Beyoncé and which foods make you want to crawl into a hole is to keep a food diary. You’ll be able to tell exactly which foods don’t agree with you within a couple of weeks if you keep your meals fairly consistent. For me, I found that I felt lethargic whenever I had consumed a fruit salad, due to the sudden high intake of fructose, therefore I now only include a handful of fruit on some of my breakfasts, which prevents this feeling.

 

Have One Cheat Meal A Week

Unless you want to go certifiably insane and start hallucinating pizza, then it’s important to have one cheat meal per week. This will be enough to satisfy your cravings, provide more motivation to smash your workouts and give you something to look forward to every week. I usually time my cheat meal with my rest day, so I’m 110% focused to get back to clean eating and the gym the following day.

 

Don’t Overthink

Meal prep certainly aids your fitness routine as a structured guide, but it’s important not to overthink and become obsessive. If you’ve had a really bad day and you’re sadly staring at your designated snack wishing it was a packet of crisps, then swap it. As long as for the majority of the time you’re sticking to good, whole foods then one change isn’t going to make ANY difference. One workout won’t transform your body therefore one packet of crisps won’t revoke your progress.

What I Eat In A Day And Why

For many people the hardest aspect of losing weight, or toning up, is diet. Once you’ve established a routine, exercise quickly becomes addictive, but there is absolutely nothing addictive about choosing a riveta cracker over a chocolate fudge cake.

At

All.

Both the problem, and the benefit, of fitness social media accounts, is that the pictures of victoria secret model lookalikes posing on a Caribbean beach is enough to make you consider whether you can in fact live off a grape a day. But, if you dedicate some serious scrolling time, you’ll learn that the majority of these girls are actually consuming 2000+ calories a day, alongside exercise, they just know exactly what to eat.

So what should you be eating? I have changed, adapted & tweaked my diet frequently over the last four years depending on my goals and shape. Right now, I’m consuming 2000-2500 calories on days which I train Legs, Glutes & Arms and 2000 calories on a day where I train Abs. I separate my calories into 4 or 5 separate meals, as I find eating little and often gives me the best results, and I ALWAYS ensure I’m eating 5+ fruit and veggies a day (being a newly converted pescatraian helps).

This is a typical meal plan for a weight intensive day at the gym for me. It consists of whole foods, fruit, veggies, protein, carbs & healthy fats which all assist in achieving goals on the outside of your body, and making you feel good on the inside too.

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Pre Workout & Breakfast

  • 6 Strawberries
  • 10 Blueberries
  • 1 Banana
  • 4 tablespoons of ‘Oatly’ Oat Drink
  • 2 tablespoons of Coyo Coconut Yoghurt
  • Grenade Caramel Chaos Protein Bar

Using a blender, blend the strawberries, blueberries, banana, oat drink and yoghurt together. Pour into a bowl and then add the chopped up Grenade bar and any excess fruit. Smoothie bowls are a great way to consume a large majority of your 5 a day, and coupling it with a protein bar before your workout gives you the extra energy you need to smash your workout.

 

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Taken with breakfast

Every morning  I take one Zinc tablet and two Peppermint tablets with breakfast. Zinc helps build immunity as well as maintaining hormonal balance and the growth of your skin, hair and nails. Peppermint tablets assist in relaxing your stomach muscles and encourage sufficient digestion.

http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/holland-barrett-extra-strength-oil-of-peppermint-capsules-200mg-60005010

http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/holland-barrett-high-strength-zinc-tablets-15mg-60005711

 

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Taken after Breakfast (and each meal)

If you suffer with bloating after certain foods, or a big meal, then taking two capsules after eating helps to improve that uncomfortable feeling. Or, if you simply want to aid digestion then these work rapidly in assisting this. I take two after every big meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and then one after my snack.

https://www.philrichardsperformance.co.uk/index.php/super-digestive-enzymes.html

 

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Post Workout & Lunch

  • Tila Coconut Basmati Rice
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Asparagus

This meal takes under 5 minutes to prepare yet it’s filled with complex carbs, healthy fats and a source of veggies. I try to include asparagus with at least two meals a day as it’s a natural diuretic, meaning it’s great at cleansing your digestive system. Substituting salmon for a lean chicken is also a great combination.

 

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Afternoon Snack

  • Narins Oat Crackers
  • 1 Banana
  • 4 scoops of Muscle Food Prutella Hazelnut Spread

This is the perfect snack to have mid-afternoon if you need an extra boost (or to satisfy some sugar cravings). Another one of your five a day ticked off and a great source of protein from the Prutella spread which will continue to assist your muscles throughout the day.

http://www.musclefood.com/prutella-chocolate-hazelnut-spread.html/

 

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Dinner

  • 1/2 cup of Pasta
  • 4 Broccoli Stems
  • 6 Green Beans
  • 2 Stems of Asparague
  • 1/2 cup of Sweetcorn
  • Handle of Mixed Peppers
  • Cod Loin

With my dinner I like to pile on as many veggies as I can, alongside a sufficient carbs and protein hit. This is usually my last source of food during the day, unless I’m particularly hungry and fancy another snack, so I like it to be as filling as possible. Again, substituting the cod with another lean meat is equally as tasty.

This is just an example of one of my week day meal plans. I like to try and mix it up everyday to ensure I still get excited about making and planning food. However, even though I may change the rice to a wholewheat bagel, or substitute pasta for potatoes, I’m still ensuring that I’m consuming good, whole foods, which I enjoy eating and give me the results I want.

What to eat on Ab Day

There is absolutely nothing better than the euphoric post ab workout feeling where you feel like you can in fact officially take on the whole world. However, as many people discover, as SOON as you start eating that lovely, proud ache starts to slowly fade away (as does the immense satisfaction of having a flat stomach). So, to help prolong your now prominent abdominal muscles it’s important to eat incredibly clean throughout the day. If you’re thinking this means endless portions of rabbit food rations then THANK GOD, you’re wrong. Ab Day food is all about healthy fats, low carbs and a LOT of water.

When’s best to eat?

I always find that my abs improve a lot more when my workout coincides with fasted cardio. To ensure I don’t embarrassingly pass out on the treadmill I always have a rather heavy snack at 8/9pm the night before such as cereal, apple and peanut butter or a protein shake. I then complete my cardio of interval sprints around 9am and then move on to abs until 10/10:30am. I then have a light breakfast, healthy lunch, an afternoon snack and a meat orientated evening meal.

Breakfast 

When you finish you’re workout you’re going to be absolutely grade A ready to cry starving so you need something which is going to fill you up, but still not too heavy. My favourite post ab breakfast is an oaty smoothie bowl, which suddenly becomes even more appealing when it’s prepared the night before. So all you have to do when you come crawling through the door is lift it out of the fridge. Amazing.

How to make it:

  • Blend together an apple, banana, raspberries, blueberries, 1 tsp of greek yoghurt, 1 tsp of honey, 1 scoop of protein powder and 75ml of almond milk.
  • Pour over a thin layer of oats in an air tight container and leave to set in the fridge overnight.
  • When serving either enjoy it as it comes or add some fresh fruit on top.

 

Lunch

Think lean. This is the meal where you want to come away feeling as light as you did before eating, whilst still addressing those hunger pains. You want to get your healthy fats in, as well as keeping it INSANELY low carb. The best way to incorporate all this is a simple salmon dish.

How to make it:

  • Grill a fresh salmon fillet, 6 mins on the skin side and 4 mins on the other side.
  • Fry some pumpkin seeds until they turn brown and start popping.
  • Mash together an avocado, sliced red onion, lettuce, lime and coriander.
  • Place mix into a bowl, add the pumpkin seeds, the salmon and slice some feta cheese on top.

*adaption from one of The Body Coaches Lean in 15 meals

 

Snack

My favourite snack during ab day is a simple, light protein pancake with fresh fruit. It’s not too filling and it will help repair and rebuild your muscles from your workout.

How to make it:

  • 2 scoops of protein pancake mix –  I use MyProtein chocolate flavour (best tasting and lowest sugar count) mixed with 3 tsp of milk in a bowl.
  • Place one scoop of coconut oil in a frying pan and push it round evenly
  • Pour the mixture into the frying pan, leave for 1 minute and then flip
  • Add raspberries and blueberries and then finish of with Zero Sugar Syrup (again, MyProtein)

 

Tea 

It’s highly likely that you’re going to be training legs, bum or arms the following day so it’s vital you provide enough calories to ensure you smash the workout. So, whilst still keeping it clean, try and aim for something meat based for your evening meal. One of my favourites is a simple chicken, rice and sweet chilli dish.

How to make it:

  • Boil a packet of golden vegetable rice for 5 minutes
  • Slice a good sized portion of cooked chicken onto a plate
  • Either use a sweet chilli marinade on the chicken or simply drizzle over a sauce
  • Mix the three ingredients together

the healthy meal plan which actually tastes nice

If you’re looking to lose weight, or stick to a more balanced diet, then it can be hard not to go down the two pieces of lettuce for lunch route. If you’re exercising frequently, then you need filling meals and snacks to fuel your workouts, but you also need this food to assist in seeing results. Eating a variety of foods in moderation will not only provide a well balanced diet, but it will also make sticking to a meal plan less painful.

Monday
For me, Monday’s are important in setting the tone for the whole week. If you start your week by exercising and eating well, then the likelihood is this will carry on all week.

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13115821_653470448127582_772249759_n.jpgBreakfast- Slices of Banana and Honey on Gluten Free Oat Crackers

Snack- An Orange & A glass of Green Tea or A glass of Cranberry Juice

Lunch- Chicken, Cucumber and Mayo in a wholegrain deli wrap

NO AFTERNOON SNACK

Tea- Stir Fried Beef, Red/Green peppers, Mushrooms and Rice in a Blackbean Sauce

 

Tuesday
If you’ve had a productive workout on the Monday then it’s good to start the day off with a lot of protein, followed by a light lunch and limited snacks.

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13140525_653470484794245_827909778_n Breakfast- Scrambled Eggs on Brown Toast with Fresh Tomatoes

NO MORNING SNACK

Lunch- Broken up pieces of Salmon, Lettuce, Cucumber and Tomato with a low fat drizzle of Caesar Dressing

Snack- Banana

Tea- Stir-Fried Lamb with Mushrooms, Potato Wedges, Pitta Bread, Salad and Tzatziki 

 

Wednesday
Small and Light meals today. I usually do Abs on a Wednesday night, so this preparation is important for a high intensity workout.

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13101412_650721021735858_506242710_nBreakfast- Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Banana, Natural Yoghurt and Honey blended into a Smoothie. If you want something more filling, try also adding some broken down Weetabix

Snack- ‘Healthy Living’ Chocolate & Caramel Bar

Lunch- Tuna, Cucumber, Tomato and Lettuce with Pasta (cooked the night before then cooled is best)

NO AFTERNOON SNACK

Tea- Chicken, Cashew Nuts, Mushrooms and Rice in a Yellow Bean sauce

 

Thursday
The temptation for a bar of chocolate or a packet of crisps is probably quite high by now, but if you stick to your plan for one more day Friday allows for a cheat meal/snack. My previous nights Ab session usually means I’m more hungry than usual, so there’s 3 fairly big meals and two snacks.

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12920957_641629055978388_1955379954_nBreakfast- Slices of Apple dipped into natural, crunchy Peanut Butter

Snack- Proper Corn Lightly Sea-Salted Popcorn

Lunch- Chicken and Potato salad with a low-fat Caesar dressing.

Snack- Weightwatchers Strawberry and Cranberry bar

Tea- Tuna Steak and Noodles in a Yellow Bean Sauce. Recipe for this meal is under Food & Snacks

 

Friday
The best day of the week mean’s that you can either have a cheat meal or a cheat snack. I usually enjoy a cheat snack of melted chocolate mixed in with cornflakes, or I’ll bake some cakes. Breakfast and Snacks are pretty light in order to help balance the treat.

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13153280_653483334792960_1503879495_n.jpgBreakfast- Weetabix or Special K with Banana and Blueberries

CHEAT SNACK OR  A CHEAT LUNCH

Snack- Bowl of Summer Berries with low fat Yoo Moo Vanilla Frozen Yoghurt

Tea- Chicken Caesar Salad. Chicken, croutons, grated cheese and Caesar dressing, but don’t add the bacon.

 

tuna steak & noodle stir fry with blackbean sauce

This meal is one of my absolute favourites to have after a workout. The recipe is really simple to follow, it takes less than 30 minutes and it tastes amazing. It’s also good for those who usually tend to snack at night as the steaks are very filling.

12939690_641628922645068_947832472_n.jpgIngredients:

  • Tuna Steaks
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers
  • Egg Noodles
  • Blackbean Sauce

After you’ve put the oven on 180° you then need to season the steaks, wrap them in foil and place in a baking tin. They should then go in the oven for approx 20-30 mins but depending on the thickness of the steaks they can sometimes be done a lot earlier so it’s best to keep checking them.

12966185_641629029311724_540296727_n.jpgAfter prepping the steaks you then need to move on to the veg. Cut both the mushrooms and the peppers into small slices and place in a bowl. You can add whatever veg you want but from experience these two go well with the sauce. Open your egg noodles and place in a cooking pan. Again, use whatever noodles you prefer but I always find that with a fish dish the egg based noodles taste the nicest.

When you think the tuna has around 5 minutes left to cook stir fry the veg and cook the noodles according to the packet. Once your veg is cooked then add the black bean sauce. You can either use the standard sauce or if you’re happy to stick with a healthy version then an organic, low-fat black bean sauce is also available in Tesco. If black bean isn’t available then hoison sauce also goes well with this meal.

12920957_641629055978388_1955379954_nOnce you’ve added the sauce to your veg let this simmer on the stove for a little longer whilst you check everything else is nearly ready. When you’re happy that your steaks are cooked right through so that the fish is beginning to flake but still remains a pinkish colour in the middle you can then plate up your noodles, transfer your tuna from the oven and add your veg on the top.